Welcome back to our on-going series, The Director's Cut, where your favorite artists provide behind the scenes looks at their latest albums. This time, we are joined by French artist Rafael Cerato, whose new LP Requiem, out now on Systematic Recordings, is a masterful body of work. Having been supported by the likes of Richie Hawtin, Solomun, Maceo Plex, and more, his attention to detail shines bright across 12 tracks that weave in and out of the various flavors of techno. Below, he provides cliff notes on the album, highlighting bits about the collaborative and production process.
How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.
"Requiem" is the lead track of the album. This track came late in the album process, but I already knew that the title of my album would be Requiem. This track is a dark peak time weapon but the breakdown gets an emotional twist that drives us between different feelings.
The production process was special because I started with the breakdown, building big strings then I produced a heavy beat to have a balance between the orchestra breakdown and powerful drops. Then I decided to invite my friend Thomas Gandey to make a second version of the track with his magic robotic voice processing.
"Paradox" is a collaboration with my really good French friend Antony Toga. I was really happy to create this track with him, it was our first collaboration together. This track came about really fast. Everything was natural and spontaneous. Antony made the beat and Fx and I added melodies and strings. Originally this track was not a part of the album, but when I was doing the final tracklist, I felt that "Paradox" needed to be part of the project
"Ouragan" means Hurricane in French. This track was created in just a few hours in the studio. I made the kick / Bassline first and then I was looking out of my window and it was raining and super windy. The weather was super bad and I was thinking about all the mess we humans have created on the earth, pollution, etc. "Ouragan" was born.
"Sirens" is one of the most "dancefloor" tracks of the LP. All ideas for the track came together because I was wanting to produce a peak time track with a big meaning. "Sirens" is our planet’s alarm sounding. We are destroying everything on the earth and it’s time to stop. So we need to sound the sirens because soon we are gonna be too late to change things.
"Vigilance" is a French word, it means to "be careful." It continues the theme of the album. I created the main arpeggiated sound melody first and then I was trying to find a powerful bassline and after some experimentations, I produced this dirty stabs loop that drives the whole track.
"Snowball" is about the weather once again. This is in relation to the melting of the ice caps. I started to produce the lead driving melody, evolving from the beginning to the end of the track like rolling a "snowball." Then I made a disco beat to create a dark disco vibe. "Snowball" is of my favorite track on the album.
"Siroze" is a disease in French. The track is super dark, with its acidic melodies and heavy drums. I was wishing to create a special atmosphere, really deep, and melancholic because our earth is suffering and sick.
8. Home To The Mystery
The intro of the album is an electronica track full of dreamy elements and a magic vocal from my old friend Jonatan Backelie from Sweden. We are working together for a while and I felt that Jonatan was fitting the album project for the introduction and outro. Home To The Mystery is talking about our earth, once again, fitting the main theme of the album.
"Guilty" is another collaboration with my friend Antony Toga. This track is special because we made it in one afternoon, playing with heavy drums and percussions that drive the whole track. I was wanting to do a special track full of disco-ish drums and a super heavy beat. This is one of the biggest dancefloor tracks on the LP for sure. "Guilty" doesn’t actually have a special meaning behind it, but it was important for me to make sure I included some non-emotional stuff in the album, focussed specifically on the dancefloor.
"Orphan" is one of my favorites. It was a real pleasure to work on this jam because the main arpeggiator sound came to me really quickly in the studio and I just kept tweaking as I built everything else around it. All sounds came from my Roland VP03. I’ve played it a hundred times all around the world at my gigs and it was one of the highlights every time.
11. One By One
I closed the album with another collaboration with Jonatan Backelie. This downtempo track is full of emotions and sound design. The title can relate to both working on the music in the studio, moving from one sound to another. But also to the theme of the album, and us working together as a species, solving the world’s problems one by one.